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jld

Low expectations?

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Amen. I would rather use lower level books/info (in terms of reading ability) and make sure my subject is well absorbed and well understood than bragging that I'm using this or that text and then not really even adequately using it....

 

I don't give a fig what "level" something is labeled. I want to know if it looks sound when I pick it up and start reading through it. I want to know it's well laid out and will work well with the way I teach. I want reinforcement to come in different packages so that the redundancy is not going to bore my child to death, but is going to help cement learning. I care not a whit for a fancy, expensive program if it's not going to serve my child well....

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All right, here are some random thoughts.

 

Low expectations from parents don't necessarily translate to low expectations in kids. Some children are naturally driven. Parents with really low expectations can have kids with high expectations. Then there are those parents who have high expectations but their kids are just not on the same page much to the distress of the parents.

 

Low expectations with academics are not such a big deal IMO. A kid can rise above that. As part of a what I now chalk up to a mid-life crisis (long story! :tongue_smilie:), I ended up taking some fairly serious science classes at a local university not that long ago, including Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, and Microbiology. I did more than fine in those courses even though I hadn't been in school for many years and practically failed some of my high school science. My first time in college, I only took very easy and basic college science courses and did rather mediocre in them, and I had almost no math background. I took Logic in college to avoid math. The university waived the math prerequisites for me for the chemistry. I had no problem picking up the algebra that I needed. It was EASY for me. In fact, I realized that there really wasn't anything all that hard about any these courses--though A & P had its moments. These classes mainly just required my interest and attention. So, if a kid (or adult) is interested, a lot of things can be accomplished in a short time academically. However, it's tougher for kids to rise above something like growing up in a home without love and affection.

 

I grew up in a home with two immigrant parents with little formal education, maybe none past the age of 12. My dad and late mom are/were some of the most educated people I've known in my life. I know plenty of folks with college degrees who don't value education at all and are not what I'd consider educated by any stretch of the imagination and they aren't inspiring their children to value knowledge for its own sake, either.

 

I thought I had pretty high standards. But when I read stuff on here (like threads on how much time kids spend on formal school work), I find myself shocked that some homeschooled kids are spending all day and sometimes evenings on regimented book work. Still, I don't think my less is more attitude equates to lower standards. I realize that kids in regular school spend all day there, but seriously, there is so much wasted time in regular school. And yes, some kids in school come home and do hours of homework on top of it. But I find that sad, not something to emulate. A homeschooled child and regularly schooled child are two entirely different things. You just can't compare the two.

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But you see, I don't think failing to do pre-calc or calc is a great, tragic loss for every kid - or even for many kids. I think that substituting long hours in a studio working on major fine arts projects is no less valuable for kids geared in that direction than long hours spent in higher maths/science studies for those kids who are geared in that direction. I think more specialization should be allowed and at a younger age.

 

But if a child is not doing one sort of course of study, then they need to be doing another. If that means they're focusing on business studies and applying those at a job, that's fine. If it means they're volunteering in a museum to further their art interests, then that's fine. If they're learning voc/technical skills, that's fine. But they do need to be engaged for a significant number of hours each day in meaningful work/learning of some type. Not just drifting....

 

I don't think choosing fine arts over math/science need make a program of study any less "rigorous". It's just rigourous in a different way. Choosing a number of projects, completing them and critiquing them; entering projects in shows and receiving critiques from others, etc. are all meaningful.

 

What I think tends toward not rigorous enough is the teen who's doing a couple of hours of meaningful work of any kind a day and then spending the rest of the day lounging, texting, watching TV, playing video games or doing other waste-time activities....

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Amen. I would rather use lower level books/info (in terms of reading ability) and make sure my subject is well absorbed and well understood than bragging that I'm using this or that text and then not really even adequately using it....

 

I don't give a fig what "level" something is labeled. I want to know if it looks sound when I pick it up and start reading through it. I want to know it's well laid out and will work well with the way I teach. I want reinforcement to come in different packages so that the redundancy is not going to bore my child to death, but is going to help cement learning. I care not a whit for a fancy, expensive program if it's not going to serve my child well....

 

I do think it matters what level something is when issuing high school credits. If a child is not able to earn and absorb high school level material, it is certainly better to teach a level they can absorb and learn, but it is not honest to issue high school credits for middle school level work.

 

On the second bolded statement, I don't think anyone is talking about needing fancy or expensive materials; that is entirely separate from the question of rigor. Bringing that in looks like a red herring to me.

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I haven't read all of the threads yet, but am always struggling with this. I do think low expectations means different things to different families. Our struggle is I have creative kids, and their brains are wired differently. They (one is graduated) love science, math, really love writing, history and literature. But, the math and science works through their brains much differently and at a much. more. slower. pace than math/science brains. So, we are rigorous for them. Probably too rigorous. I say that because there is no time for other important things in their lives. When a pet going to the vet, or a three day bout with the flu completely unravels everything, then something is not right. Adjustment time. Last night in the middle of the night, I finally allowed us the permission to slow down dd's chemistry. Funny thing, with the time pressure off today, she is being much more productive and is getting it better.

 

Any way you cut it, not doing school is not acceptable. Letting your kids take day after day to do unacademic things is not good either. The arguement that you are not going to use the education or don't need it doesn't work over here either, and neither of my kids would accept that line. They love learning. It is so hard when no one. else. you. know. that. homeschools. sees it the same. I always feel we could do more, but everyone I know (or it seems so) thinks we are killing our kids. We are not. We are teaching them to work hard, that they can learn things they didn't think they could. And in a supportive ADAPTABLE environment that meets their needs as well.

 

I haven't read all the responses but wanted to comment here. Working hard is one of the keys to a rigorous education, imo...not just content learned. That is why we cannot set standards across the board for all children. Some students have to work twice as hard to learn the same content as other students.

 

Gifted students for whom learning comes easily should probably be working at a more advanced level than average students so that they can experience the "hard work" aspect of education. Likewise students with learning challenges can still work very hard while mastering less content than the average student.

 

Hard Work is my emerging educational philosophy as I try to determine things like how many books, how much writing, how much math, etc. Is it hard yet? This is, of course, different for each of my children. I don't want to kill them with work or over burden them. But I do want to find that place where they have to struggle a bit knowing that I am supporting and encouraging and cheerleading every step of the way and providing them the environment and tools they need to overcome the struggle. Imo, this is the best thing that my public school experience gave me. I struggled hard but I overcame and it gave me great confidence. I can't remember how to do geometry proofs or the complicated chemistry formulas and I can say that I have never needed these things for "real life." But I can't help but think that the process of mastering them at the time was extraordinarily beneficial for my developing brain and for my confidence and my over-all attitude towards life. This is what I want for my children. It's not all about content.

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Amen. I would rather use lower level books/info (in terms of reading ability) and make sure my subject is well absorbed and well understood

 

:iagree: If my dd does a higher level Chemistry program, slogs through it every day just to finish it and check off a box, then remembers absolutely nothing, what has she gained? A Chemistry credit. If she does a lower level Chemistry program, reads it eagerly each day and absorbs the information, remembers it, enjoys sharing what she has learned, what has she gained? A Chemistry credit PLUS a love of a subject that the higher level would have killed PLUS a base knowledge of Chemistry. For my child, the choice is an easy one.

 

 

I thought I had pretty high standards. But when I read stuff on here (like threads on how much time kids spend on formal school work), I find myself shocked that some homeschooled kids are spending all day and sometimes evenings on regimented book work. Still, I don't think my less is more attitude equates to lower standards. I realize that kids in regular school spend all day there, but seriously, there is so much wasted time in regular school. And yes, some kids in school come home and do hours of homework on top of it. But I find that sad, not something to emulate. A homeschooled child and regularly schooled child are two entirely different things. You just can't compare the two.

 

I totally agree with the statements in bold type.

 

I rarely post. The few times I have, I know that I would be considered one of those with low expectations by the OP. That's ok. I'm sure my real-life friends think the same. I'm ok with that. My dd has Asperger's. My expectations for her are certainly different. My younger dd is six years behind her sister. I don't know what direction her path will take. I will do what I need to to help her meet her goals.

 

We are all different, with different children. I just don't think one can know enough of each individual situation to make a statement like this.

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But you see, I don't think failing to do pre-calc or calc is a great, tragic loss for every kid - or even for many kids. I think that substituting long hours in a studio working on major fine arts projects is no less valuable for kids geared in that direction than long hours spent in higher maths/science studies for those kids who are geared in that direction. I think more specialization should be allowed and at a younger age.

 

But if a child is not doing one sort of course of study, then they need to be doing another. If that means they're focusing on business studies and applying those at a job, that's fine. If it means they're volunteering in a museum to further their art interests, then that's fine. If they're learning voc/technical skills, that's fine. But they do need to be engaged for a significant number of hours each day in meaningful work/learning of some type. Not just drifting....

 

I don't think choosing fine arts over math/science need make a program of study any less "rigorous". It's just rigourous in a different way. Choosing a number of projects, completing them and critiquing them; entering projects in shows and receiving critiques from others, etc. are all meaningful.

 

 

Absolutely. I think just about everyone on these boards accepts TWTM as "rigorous," and SWB makes an argument for specialization for late high school, even for -- gasp -- dropping math in the last year or two to concentrate on a speciality in another field.

 

I think we need to question the cultural assumption that math ranks higher than the arts in terms of rigor required, or that people who do non-academic work -- say, professional bakers -- cannot be just as surely engaged in a pursuit of rigor in their chosen field as an engineer.

 

Likewise, certain of the arts are typically thought of as "higher" in some way than others; dancing tends to get short shrift compared to painting, for instance, in traditional curricula (Ken Robinson talks about this in some of his TED lectures).

 

I'm not saying that everyone across the boards is equally rigorous in their own way and it all comes out the same in the wash. I am making an argument and agreeing with Regena, however, that rigor comes in more than one form.

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But you see, I don't think failing to do pre-calc or calc is a great, tragic loss for every kid - or even for many kids. I think that substituting long hours in a studio working on major fine arts projects is no less valuable for kids geared in that direction than long hours spent in higher maths/science studies for those kids who are geared in that direction. I think more specialization should be allowed and at a younger age.

 

But if a child is not doing one sort of course of study, then they need to be doing another. If that means they're focusing on business studies and applying those at a job, that's fine. If it means they're volunteering in a museum to further their art interests, then that's fine. If they're learning voc/technical skills, that's fine. But they do need to be engaged for a significant number of hours each day in meaningful work/learning of some type. Not just drifting....

 

I don't think choosing fine arts over math/science need make a program of study any less "rigorous". It's just rigourous in a different way. Choosing a number of projects, completing them and critiquing them; entering projects in shows and receiving critiques from others, etc. are all meaningful.

 

What I think tends toward not rigorous enough is the teen who's doing a couple of hours of meaningful work of any kind a day and then spending the rest of the day lounging, texting, watching TV, playing video games or doing other waste-time activities....

 

:iagree:This is incredibly well said. Thank you for taking the time to post it.

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I would LOVE to send some kids to your classes Cynthia! I always enjoy reading what you are doing with your boys.

 

Lisa

 

:iagree: emphatically!

 

~~Faithe

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Absolutely. I think just about everyone on these boards accepts TWTM as "rigorous," and SWB makes an argument for specialization for late high school, even for -- gasp -- dropping math in the last year or two to concentrate on a speciality in another field.

 

I think we need to question the cultural assumption that math ranks higher than the arts in terms of rigor required, or that people who do non-academic work -- say, professional bakers -- cannot be just as surely engaged in a pursuit of rigor in their chosen field as an engineer.

 

Likewise, certain of the arts are typically thought of as "higher" in some way than others; dancing tends to get short shrift compared to painting, for instance, in traditional curricula (Ken Robinson talks about this in some of his TED lectures).

 

I'm not saying that everyone across the boards is equally rigorous in their own way and it all comes out the same in the wash. I am making an argument and agreeing with Regena, however, that rigor comes in more than one form.

 

:iagree: with this and have come through the other end of this. Rigour can take different paths. My older kids had rigorous educations with only 1 of the 3 taking higher level maths and sciences. The other 2 scored near perfect verbal SAT scores and pulled all A's in college humanities coursework. One persued arts, one is persuing a medical career, one is studying Mathematics...ALL of my kids were deeply dedicated students but their forms of rigour were varied. Oldest immersed herself in art, next immersed herself in Red Cross certifications, swim coaching, and sport nutrition, in which she is now finishing her degree, next worked with dh as a plumber/ hvac tech, was oil certified at 17, learned to read/ write blueprints, swam competively, all the while persuing academic subjects of Math and literature.

 

I see my next group of students also persuing rigorous studies which may not mirror all WTM recommendations nor line up perfectly with anyone else's idea of rigor, but are academically challenging none-the-less.

 

I think that is one of the reasons I homeschool....

 

I understand that there are many homeschoolers who are very lax and have no real goals. Unfortunately , we do not have a trust fund to support that type of lifestyle:glare: so, we need to work hard to attain our dreams. And if my kids are to work hard as adults, they need to learn to work hard as children.

 

Faithe

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I agree that high school level work should definitely be high school level.

 

I'm thinking more of middle or even elementary schoolers whose parents are concerned with announcing that they are gifted and doing high school or college level work. I've run into folks where I live who say they are doing this, but the programming they're using may either not really be sound (that is, a solid, high school level program), or they are using it in such a way that the child is not really accomplishing what was meant to be accomplished.

 

Purchasing an online program through Plato, for instance, and allowing a child to work online alone, scoring 60%, because you figure that he's young anyway and that's good enough - that just doesn't cut it for me....

 

I have in past known folks who wouldn't dream of using anything but Calvert, but the way in which it was used did not do service to either the program or the child using it. Similarly, I know of many who purchase expensive, all inclusive history/lit type curriculums, then constantly bemoan their inability to really utilize them.

 

So what I'm saying is that some folks seem to think (or want to delude themselves or others into believing) that if they buy certain programs, sometimes because those programs are expensive, that this will translate to "rigor" within their homeschooling. But no program, of any name or cost, that is improperly used is going to yield optimum results.

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But I'll have what looks like low expectations to many of you when my kids are in high school because we live under a different system. Different rules require a different plan of action. Rosie

 

This board has people from around the world & what is high expectations in one culture may not translate into another culture as even important. I grew up in the States, so I can see where many of you are coming from with what you expect out of your children. It is much the same path as I followed years ago in my college-prep. classes in PS. Here in NZ expectations & requirements are completely foreign to what I knew. I would never had dreamed that my dc would be leaving highschool at age 16 to begin tertiery study. Dh "finished" highschool at age 16 & began a 5 year apprenticeship, so he sees what our dc are doing as normal. Did my dc complete maths up through calculus? No, but they all have a firm foundations in maths & are open & able to learn any higher maths they have missed out on. Did my dc complete biology, chemistry, & physics before beginning their tertiery studies? No, but dd has excelled in her Marine Biology studies, doing even better than others who attended fancy, private highschools, rather than polytech like she did. Ds#1 has done better than most in his engineering class, even though they had physics, higher maths, etc. on their transcript & he does not.

 

Dh & I have very high expectations of our dc, but our expectations aren't linked to achedemics alone. We expect our children to take their place in our society as productive adults by the time they are 21. If their career path requires high achedemic study, great! But developing the attitudes & abilities to work hard, is as important as calculus. I see too many young people in their teen & 20s that are still children in the way they expect to be supported by their parents or society. They don't want to work for a living. They may have a great achedemic background, but they can't get or hold a job because they don't have the life skills necessary to be successfull.

 

For those who are pursuing the highly achedemic path, I think it is great. But don't judge those of us taking alternate educational routes with our children. Just like a "good diet" for a child isn't a standard list of food, a "good education" is based on culture & family circumstances & may not translate clearly.

 

JMHO,

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See, I made that mistake with my older son. I knew he was smart and completely discounted his difficulty with language. Science terminology is like foreign language for him, extremely difficult to decipher, learn, or remember (he has auditory processing problems).

 

I did not do well by him for science at all as I had him reading books that I'm sure he did not get that much from. I can say this in retrospect, but I did not understand it at the time.

 

I let him choose his science for eighth and ninth grades and he chose biology and geology. I used Hoagland's bio text for non-majors in eighth and he did a dual credit course through Indiana University for ninth (also for non-majors) and even those were difficult for him in terms of terminology.

 

The extra reading I had him doing along with Hoagland (Dawkins, etc.) I'm sure was at least somewhat mystifying for him. He did it. I thought at the time that he was getting something from it. But later on I realized that it was not anything that he really retained.

 

I wish now that I had slowed things down earlier in middle school to help him be much better prepared in high school and then he might have enjoyed science much more and gotten more out of it. I don't think he ever would have turned into a math and science guy, but I still think he would have enjoyed it more.

 

He did not take any AP or even honors level science courses when he returned to private school. And I'm not sure how much he got out of his classes there, either (we homeschoolers are not the only ones who are not always rigorous). I think the physical anthropology course he's just now finishing up in college is the best science course he's ever done and the one he's gotten the most from in terms of biology.

 

So to me, rigor is not about throwing an AP text at a child who may not benefit at all from it. It's not even about throwing what I (as a science person) would consider a great science reading list. It's about trying to meet the child's needs with whatever sort of text or book I need to use to do that and staying attuned to whether or not they are really learning as we go along. If I have to slow down and drill certain aspects of the basics to build a sound base for further learning, then I think that's what I need to do to achieve rigor.

 

My younger son is a math and science guy. I probably could throw the same sorts of books at him as I did with the older one and he might be okay. But instead I'm trying to build a broader and more meaningful base for him in hopes that this will inspire a greater love and desire to delve deeper into science as he gets older....

 

Maybe when I look back on it later I won't think it rigorous, either, I don't know. I can only relate from the point I'm at right now....

 

If I had a child who had started hsing at an older age (and so was behind), or one who had any sort of learning difficulties, then "rigor" in my programming would obviously look very different from the way it would look if I had a math and science gifted child who couldn't get enough of those subjects. And I don't think I'd ever expect the same degree of rigor in every subject area for any given child....

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There are a coulple thousand people on this board with all sorts of expectations. A couple of weeks ago there was a poster that was stating everyone here (on TWTM boards) should just "chill out (academically)". Someone else stated that this was "started" as a classical forum. That really surprised me, cause I thought it still was a forum for those interested in classical ed. Course they'll be others here (it's a large, active site) that will put in and I'm fine with that. But that thread really took me by surprise. Someone HERE demanding pc scholasitc views. Argh! I felt like my safe haven was being threatened.

 

We are constantly being told how smart, polite, etc our kids are. The reality is that they are good, decent, smart, well read, respectful people who stand by a set of moral principals that they have personally adopted. This is becoming such a rarity that it is considered extra special. And, truth be told, each one of them, 5 for 5, are idiot savants:001_smile: (using hyperbole here- but ykwim? they are really advanced in certain areas and brain dead in others). And, our family is skewed to excell in areas and not in others.

We do push hard, but reality, we could push harder still, as could most families I know.

We have a goal. It included academics, faith, and a myriad of abilities of which academics are a part. I don't think most families, parents or adults start with the end in mind in regards to their kids, homeschooling, parenting, etc. If they did, "expectations" would take on a whole new meaning.

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Precisely. And rigor is going to look different for every child. The child who isn't a reader may be a genius at invention and may tinker with making new products all the time. Or he may be a fabulous salesman destined to becoming a leader in marketing. Or he may be wonderful at working with his hands and be destined to own his own auto repair company. I think Sir Ken has great ideas for allowing folks to be themselves and encouraging them to think outside the box.

 

As shepherds of our children, I think that we can best address rigor by watching our children as they grow up, identifying those areas where they seem to have strong interests and abilities, and gently attempting to guide them in directions where they'll be able to stretch those....

 

Allowing them to lapse in hated subjects after they've covered the bases in those and concentrate on other areas where they may go further is quite different than just letting them lolly-gag around all day, month after month, doing nothing of value, however.

 

I'm not ever in favor of saying we "did school" when we just really didn't. But I'm always in favor of each individual doing school in a way that best suits their needs, abilities, interests, and goals in life. If those change later, then they can always go back to school.... School will always be there and with the push to throw up open course ware online, I'm thinking that it's just going to be more and more available to the masses as we go forward....

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Yes! I guess that's what I'm trying to fumble around and say in my poor way. "Work" is going to look very different for each individual and it's not necessarily going to come out of a book of any type, either. But it is going to involve a concerted effort and time on the part of the student over a period of generally months or years (as with life guard cert, learning to read blue prints, etc.).

 

So rigor in a program cannot necessarily be measured by a hard and fast rule of what texts or courses one is completing. The work may take the form of various volunteer or paid work experiences, taking part in various sorts of certification programs, working on major arts projects of various sorts (being involved with a dance company or theatre company, etc.) or in many other ways that involve real life learning. Any of these things may still involve rigor....

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What has really been eye-opening for me, trained to think of rigor in purely (limited) academic terms until lately, has been reading some cookbooks by pastry chefs and hearing about the tremendously long hours they put in -- starting before dawn, finishing up at eleven at night -- and the dedication they have in their quests for certain ingredients, for scientifically going through recipe variation after variation and comparing results, searching out other people's knowledge and products wherever they travel. I'm sure not all pastry chefs are like this, but I have read a goodly number of books now by those who are.

 

That one area has opened my eyes to all the others who pursue their work with intensity and focus that I didn't really associate with areas outside academia, because that's where I was trained and worked.

 

Another thing that has been amazing for me is seeing my dd, who has some pretty difficult fine motor and visual issues to overcome, trying and trying yet again to do something that is simple for other people, like tying a bow, or curling ribbon on Christmas packages, or fastening buckles on horse bridles. I have seen her persist through so much frustration and discouragement on these and other fronts. I'm amazed she has anything left over to use on her schoolwork sometimes.

 

So with academic subjects we sometimes practice selective rigor, or deliberately lower our expectations from what she could do if pushed equally hard in every discipline. I'm lucky in many ways, in part because she is just very bright and has many academic interests, so the level at which we work remains "high" -- for lack of a better word -- although I'm not always pushing her as far or fast as she could go. I could say, oh, look, she's accelerated/advanced or we're rigorous because she's doing such-and-such which is way beyond the norm. But that misses the point that perhaps she doesn't have to work so very hard to get there; it comes naturally to her.

 

I'm also lucky because I find it easy and highly pleasurable to work and learn alongside her, to integrate her interests into the directions we take within a particular field, to explore topics or aspects of subjects that would not normally come up in a standard high school education but which fascinate her.

 

She will ask for higher levels of difficulty in some areas, just want to do the minimum in others. When I see the things she demands from herself every day that most people never give a second thought to, I find this perfectly reasonable. I often feel humbled by her, and honored to work with her (and the rest of the time, exasperated).

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:iagree: If my dd does a higher level Chemistry program, slogs through it every day just to finish it and check off a box, then remembers absolutely nothing, what has she gained? A Chemistry credit. If she does a lower level Chemistry program, reads it eagerly each day and absorbs the information, remembers it, enjoys sharing what she has learned, what has she gained? A Chemistry credit PLUS a love of a subject that the higher level would have killed PLUS a base knowledge of Chemistry. For my child, the choice is an easy one.

 

 

 

 

I totally agree with the statements in bold type.

 

I rarely post. The few times I have, I know that I would be considered one of those with low expectations by the OP. That's ok. I'm sure my real-life friends think the same. I'm ok with that. My dd has Asperger's. My expectations for her are certainly different. My younger dd is six years behind her sister. I don't know what direction her path will take. I will do what I need to to help her meet her goals.

 

We are all different, with different children. I just don't think one can know enough of each individual situation to make a statement like this.

 

 

:iagree:

 

My oldest has a whammy of slowed process across his frontal lobe, dyslexia and autism. My middle has Central Auditory Processing and autism, my youngest is a math genius but loathes reading though he does it well - he has autism and selective mutism.

 

Naturally their educations will not look the same. Currently the oldest is reading on a 5th grade level - for many reasons - me listening when public school said it was his autism causing reading issues and not pursuing it, us not having the money for a private evaluation for almost a year after we pulled them out of school, the time it took to find a tutor - but even when he's closer to grade level he will not be able to have as rigorous academics than the other two. He will work just as hard but the work will have to be adapted or it would be pointless because he wouldn't absorb it.

 

Our primary concentration is giving our kids the tools they need to be self supporting adults within their special skill set. The oldest is a musical whiz - plays by ear and is a natural at sound engineering. The middle son is just as good at golf as the oldest is at music. He also is a nature lover. The youngest will probably be the most academic - possibly an engineering type like his father. We do regular academic work and take advantage of our flexible schedule to give them opportunities to work on their special skill.

 

I'm sure people would think we're not academically rigorous enough but we're doing the best we can and it's a darn better sight than what they got in the local public schools. My father could neither read nor write but he was a fine carpenter who put food on the table. Not every child will or should go to college. Maybe mine will, maybe they won't. They'll be prepared as much as I can prepare them no matter what.

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My pet peeve is this widespread utilitarian, not to say "economic-minded" approach in education... The idea that God forbid we require of a future engineer the study of literature in a foreign language or, equally God forbid, calculus for a future historian - because they won't need it, therefore, not only it's not a necessity, but it's not an "economic enough" approach to raise our children as intellectuals...

What about people who are raising their children to be "intellectuals," but choose, for reasons that have nothing to do with economics, not to require their kids to read literature in a foreign language or take calculus? I could say "My pet peeve is that schools only require biology, physics, and chemistry — God forbid students actually be required to study a full year each of geology, astronomy, paleontology, and environmental science, or God forbid they be required to study cultural anthropology, the history of science, epistemology, phenomenology, and existentialism." *I* think those subjects are important, and my kids will study them, but I'm not remotely annoyed by the fact that other parents choose other subjects, regardless of their reasons.

 

Another thing which irks me, though a bit less, is the tyranny of extreme educational relativism, the whole "it's all equal but different" political corretness which aims to subject you to itself, relativizing things until the absurd, in order for you to finally "admit" that all educational methods and philosophies are valid paths to the same (is it the same?) destination.

No it's not the same "destination" — that's the whole point. For some parents the destination may be an intense classical education that includes reading literature in multiple European languages and translating Vergil; for some it may be an interest-led exploration of talents and passions; and for still others the primary goal may be turning out mature, responsible kids with excellent skills who are ready to enter the workforce. All of those are equally valid paths, to equally valid destinations.

 

But you see, I don't think failing to do pre-calc or calc is a great, tragic loss for every kid - or even for many kids. I think that substituting long hours in a studio working on major fine arts projects is no less valuable for kids geared in that direction than long hours spent in higher maths/science studies for those kids who are geared in that direction. I think more specialization should be allowed and at a younger age.

:iagree: I was one of those artsy kids who (gasp) skipped calculus (I took art & creative writing instead), and I don't think my life has been ruined because of it. ;)

 

Jackie

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That said, as a former research scientist and part-time professor, I know how high the bar should be to give my chidlren maximum flexibility after they graduate from home, and how the choices some homeschool families are making is going to impact the future of their children

 

 

...

 

This is what I was trying to say. I'm not sure everyone does know this.

 

Ladies, I don't think I've explained myself well. From some of the reactions I've read, I've clearly not explained myself well at all. I understand that some students cannot do more than Algebra I, and maybe cannot do even that. I understand that there is a wide, wide path to success in life. I'm not disputing that.

 

I think the people who mentioned the work ethic idea in general are onto what I'm thinking. John Holt mentioned once that the whole point of unschooling was to do first-rate work. I realize some people might take issue with that, and say that the whole point of unschooling is to have any point that anyone wants to have. But I still think Holt had the right idea.

 

Do you remember when the housing bubble was in full swing? When we were all hearing about how prices were going up, up, up, and you could buy a house with no money down, and people were doing just that? Didn't some of us think, wow, that sounds unreal, but it's not our business, we just won't say anything? And look what happened to our whole country.

 

I think Violet makes an excellent point about how children who are loved can overcome whatever expectations their parents may have had when they were growing up. Curious people can achieve all sorts of things at any point in their lives. I certainly agree that loving a child and providing warmth and caring in her life is far more important than seeing that she gets through calculus.

 

I'm a big believer in homeschooling. You are right, Jenn, that I am passionate about it. I don't think there is a person in the world who loves a child more than that child's parents. No one is more invested in a child than the parents. I would like to see more people homeschooling, not fewer. I think it builds stronger families, and saves a lot of money. I really think it has the potential to be a strong force in rebuilding our society.

 

But if I'm going to be a promoter of homeschooling, I have to take an honest look at the criticisms of it, and one criticism I'm hearing regularly is whether or not the parents are asking enough of the kids. It's pretty hard to ask "enough", whatever that could mean, if the parents don't know what expectations might be out there, in academia, or the workplace. Yes, the kids could find out the hard way, but could there be an easier way?

 

And to the gal who said I wouldn't think what her child is doing is enough . . . I'm not thinking about anyone's child in particular. If anything, the people who responded to this thread may not be the people I was thinking of almost at all.

 

It's really hard to communicate effectively on sensitive topics. I know everyone loves her child. I know we all do better in some areas than others. Probably the people who could most benefit from asking themselves honestly about their expectations for their children are the people who aren't reading this at all. Isn't that how it usually goes?

 

I guess what I'm learning with my children, and in life in general, is that life is hard, and that careful, consistent work needs to be done every day, and that wise choices need to be made every day. I have been looking, looking, looking for a way around this but I just don't seem to find it. I'm sharing this with my kids as we, yes, sometimes slog through something that may seem onerous in the short-term, but that I think will pay long-term dividends.

 

One last specific example: I read recently that half the people in graduate science or technical programs in America are foreigners. Isn't this the segment that generates wealth for the country, that provides the money for culture and the arts? Isn't it just a good insurance policy for our country to have lots of natives able to study science and technical subjects at a graduate level? Isn't that easier to accomplish if kids get a good start in middle or high school?

 

I'd also like to say that when I mentioned English as a core subject, I really meant reading in general. We learn so, so much when we just read, read, read.

 

You know, I thought this topic might be a firestarter, but I'm not sure it's a bad idea to start a fire once in a while, if it makes us pause and reflect on our priorities. It's okay to examine our conscience. A prof here recently mentioned that most of her students have the ability to do her subject area, but may lack the discipline and time management to do so. I think it's helpful to learn from comments like that. If we are getting upset about something, it might be a chance to ask ourselves why.

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But if I'm going to be a promoter of homeschooling, I have to take an honest look at the criticisms of it, and one criticism I'm hearing regularly is whether or not the parents are asking enough of the kids. It's pretty hard to ask "enough", whatever that could mean, if the parents don't know what expectations might be out there, in academia, or the workplace. Yes, the kids could find out the hard way, but could there be an easier way?

 

 

 

This is why I started my "rethinking" thread a week or so ago. I've been homeschooling for a long time, and I still have a long way to go. In addition, homeschooling has changed in many ways from when I first started. And now that I'm the mom of a large family, I'm finding that pat answers about how to get it all done bother me. I read threads about rigor written by people who have two teens at home, and I wonder how on earth I can get even half of that done with three preschoolers running around, a high schooler with special needs, and two other school age dc. But I know that we could do more. I know I need to require more of my older dc. I just can't seem to actually get it done, to actually sit down and figure out what they need to do and then hold them to it.

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I don't know how long you've been on these boards, but in my decade here. . . I've gotten the distinct impression that the boards are now populated by a much wider variety of hs'ers than they once were. 7-10 years ago, the boards seemed much more uniformly WTM-inspired classical hs'ers who were attempting to provide something similar to the rigor espoused in TWTM. . . now there seems to be a wider net of hs philisophies here. I think this board is now more a reflection of the variety of hs'ers out there.

 

It is good to have a variety of opinions, of course. . . and folks of all types can provide valuable insights & feedback. . .

 

But, it does make it less of a community of likeminded hardcore academically ambitious homeschoolers. It makes it a bit harder to get feedback from just others who have the same general principles as I do. It makes it a bit lonely to be an outlier here, just as I am IRL. :(

 

For instance, I recently posted a thread about being overwhelmed (I have been). . . and got a lot of feedback that --yes, I am doing way too much, and that expecting 6 hrs of school from a 6th grader & 7 from my 8th grader (including 90 min of music practice in that time frame) was a LOT LOT LOT. I appreciated the support & ideas very much, but was surprised at the almost-unanimity of the response that this was too much work. . . as I don't think those hours are excessive compared to TWTM. . . I didn't expect that those hours would seem excessive for those ages. . . I don't know what I expected, and the responses were NOT unkind at all. . . It just surprised me that so many folks here are apparently schooling for a half day during the logic stage. :confused:

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No it's not the same "destination" — that's the whole point. For some parents the destination may be an intense classical education that includes reading literature in multiple European languages and translating Vergil; for some it may be an interest-led exploration of talents and passions; and for still others the primary goal may be turning out mature, responsible kids with excellent skills who are ready to enter the workforce. All of those are equally valid paths, to equally valid destinations.

 

 

 

Yeah, that's what I would say about your examples too. But do you not believe there are invalid, or really shoddy paths to take to valid destinations? Colleges needing to run remedial classes sounds like an example of that. (Note word "sounds" there since I only have info from this board, no personal experience.) Do you not think that some paths really aren't valid, or close enough to not valid that we'd be laying a "only over my dead body" lecture on our kids? (No, Kid. No underwater basket weaving while I'm paying your bills! :lol:)

 

Rosie

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I notice it in the real world too. A lot of people limit the potential of their children because they see a particular talent and work to develop it. In doing so, sometimes they limit other possibilities because "artsy kids don't like math" or something else silly like that. A child in middle school or early high school has their entire life ahead of them. To limit their exposure to math or science or languages or literature at that age doesn't strike me as a good idea, regardless of what other strengths they may possess. (Obvious exceptions for students with disabilities, parents who don't limit their children, your own particular child, etc, all apply.)

 

 

I guess I am one of these parents. I don't feel that I am limiting our kids, but I do allow them to chose their own paths. I think of it as they are learning to prioritize and think what they truly want and go for it.

 

I see our kids going far in whatever path they decide to take. I don't feel that a person need/can to know or experience every thing to be happy, fulfilled, and successful in life. We encourage our kids to push themselves to achieve their goals. We encourage our kids to try new things and to keep their options open.

 

I can guarantee that some things a person just knows isn't for them. There is no way on this Earth that I am going to be a nurse or doctor, I can't even deal with my kids having diahrea or throwing up. Yuck!!!!!

 

Dd wants to major in music and teach Kung Fu. She has no interest in being a doctor, lawyer, scientist, engineer, etc. She enjoys most of her subjects at least a little bit. Some she has a passion for, others she just likes because... she likes to learn and is curious. I am not going to require her to do precalculus, calculus, or AP sciences. She wants to study Chinese, she wants to take AP or CLEP in other subject areas, she wants to study other subjects more in depth. So instead of taking 4 yrs of hard core science and math, she will do hard core other subjects that she (and Dh and I) feel that will help her along that path that she has chosen. But we will make sure that she will be able to change paths if she finds she wants to later. She will have to take 3 yrs of math (alg 1, alg 2, geometry) and 3 yrs of integrated science so she at least will have a foundation in math and science. She can always learn more math and science later. But to help her on her current chosen path.. she needs more music, more writing, and solid general studies. That is what we are giving her.

 

Her twin brother is another story. He wants to be an astrophysicist. He needs heavy math and science in high school years. He does not have interest in literature (but he loves to read sci-fi and learn about the world). He has no interest in analyzing literature and IMO he really doesn't need to. He can just enjoy reading the literature just to enjoy them. He does need to be able to analyze nonfiction and he enjoys doing so. He will debate philisophical and science theories with everyone who is willing (and not willing-LOL) to do so. He is an Aspie... he just doesn't get the nuances of human nature... he needs to learn and understand enough to get by in this world, but no reason to torture him by making him analyze fiction literature. I have him read books, keep a simple reading journal, and write a book summary. He can do the more critical and harder analysis in subjects/topics that fits for him.

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I do think it matters what level something is when issuing high school credits. If a child is not able to earn and absorb high school level material, it is certainly better to teach a level they can absorb and learn, but it is not honest to issue high school credits for middle school level work.

 

 

But it is honest. Some children are not capable of doing high school level academics in high school (and maybe never will). But if they are challenged and accomplish what they are capable of doing while in high school, I see nothing wrong in saying they earned the high school credit for that course.

 

Public schools do this all the time. They list on the transcripts the level of academics (if it is resource, regular, honors, or AP). If the high school student who struggles with math, spent the amount of time and effort on learning math to the level he/she is capable of... that is still math credit for high school. They can call it Math A, Math B, and so on. But it is still math credit when completed in high school.

 

I feel that it would be wrong to give credit for precalculus when a student did not complete precalculus.

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Yeah, that's what I would say about your examples too. But do you not believe there are invalid, or really shoddy paths to take to valid destinations? Colleges needing to run remedial classes sounds like an example of that. (Note word "sounds" there since I only have info from this board, no personal experience.) Do you not think that some paths really aren't valid, or close enough to not valid that we'd be laying a "only over my dead body" lecture on our kids? (No, Kid. No underwater basket weaving while I'm paying your bills! :lol:)

 

Rosie

To me, an "invalid" path would be one that doesn't take the child where they want to go.

 

My DS plans a career in science, and he'll need 2 semesters of college calculus plus an advanced statistics course. Math happens to be his least favorite subject, and if I allowed him to just do a couple of years of a very easy math program, or not do much math at all, then by definition that would be an invalid path because it wouldn't take him where he wants to go. OTOH, if he hates literary analysis, I'm not going to make him slog through 100 "Great Books" and write in-depth papers on all of them, just because that's part of someone else's path.

 

I think it works both ways, too — my DH had what many here would consider a rigorous classical education. He studied Latin, French, & German, read plenty of "Great" books, studied history, music and art, took advanced math and sciences, and worked his butt off 8-10 hrs/day and often on weekends. He also hated every minute of it, because the rigid structure, emphasis on reading, and lack of free time to pursue his interests was not a good path for a profoundly gifted, dyslexic, ADD, visual/spatial learner who was interested in computers, electronics, and media. It didn't make him into a "well-rounded intellectual," it made him angry that he wasted all his time studying subjects he had neither interest in nor aptitude for. What might look like the perfect education for one person may actually be an "invalid path" for someone else, because it doesn't meet their needs, or take them where they want to go.

 

Jackie

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What might look like the perfect education for one person may actually be an "invalid path" for someone else, because it doesn't meet their needs, or take them where they want to go.

 

 

Meeting their needs is certainly important, but taking them where they want to go is a trickier point, I think. Plenty of people want to go places that aren't suitable and plenty more don't know where they want to go at all because they don't know what they are capable of or what will be required when they do go somewhere.

 

Rosie- glad she has another good decade before she has to make up her mind on what to do about these issues ;)

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But it is honest. Some children are not capable of doing high school level academics in high school (and maybe never will). But if they are challenged and accomplish what they are capable of doing while in high school, I see nothing wrong in saying they earned the high school credit for that course.

 

 

This is where low expectations come in. Low expectations -- the bane of ambitious, academic homeschoolers as mentioned above. Too many homeschoolers I know do NOT challenge their children to excel in any area and therefore, do not accomplish "what they are capable of doing." To "graduate" homeschool to them means to pass the time and avoid the public school.

 

Far too many homeschoolers have not caught on to this idea that our main job is to challenge our children. To work hard, as someone said -- daily, consistently, making wise choices every day. I am my kids' greatest cheerleader! But that implies that they are trying to achieve something, anything. It is my choice to require that they excel as best they can in academics until they have chosen either academics or some other choice (art/technical skill) on their own.

 

Low expectations are the devil's workshop in the homeschool world. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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Low expectations are the devil's workshop in the homeschool world. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

 

 

But remember, every single standardized test shows that homeschoolers, as a group, outperform public schoolers. And... those on this board aren't the only homeschoolers taking these tests. PA requires them of every homeschooler in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades and in every public schooler every year from 3rd through 11th. Then there are the ACT/SAT tests for college entry which also show college bound homeschoolers doing better than college bound public schoolers (again, as groups).

 

There are high and low expectations and abilities in both groups of kids.

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I have lived in 3 states now where no testing of any sort was required of homeschoolers K-12 or to graduate. We have been "proud" of our homeschool freedoms that allow this. We are free to low achievement if we want that. I have known too many non-testing, non-achieving, minimum-wage earning "graduates" of home school.

 

Your claim that "every single standardized test shows that homeschoolers, as a group, outperform public schoolers" assumes that homeschoolers as a whole take these tests, and I would not say that is generally true. I realize in Wisconsin and Maine we may have lived in backwards areas, as these are backward states and Maine is barely on the map and all, but I have also lived in majorly populated central California.

 

In my experience of 15+ years homeschooling, I have seen maybe 1 out of 10 students even attempt a college entrance exam. So to compare homeschoolers taking tests with public schoolers taking tests, is irrelevant to the low expectations I have seen. Testers vs. testers are easily compared. I know too many non-testers.

 

I still say I have seen many -- too many -- mothers with too many children give up the effort in say, middle school, and never quite their act back together for the ones following. Low expectations -- call them graduated. But most of these kids I have known have low expectations of themselves as well, and I call that a shame. "Too many children" can even be 2 or 3. Homeschooling is a long-term effort. My youngest (I have 6) does NOT deserve the short end of the stick. Because of the freedom from testing, many homeschoolers I have known just give up trying to even keep their kids on a path of achievement, whatever that path may be. We are free to just be, and some believe that just being is good enough.

 

But again, I live in the woods of Maine -- maybe I am just among the backwards people. Your experience with homeschool scholars may be different. I come here to meet with achievers around the world. I do not know many in my real life.

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There are two ways to tailor children's educations: you can tailor to interests or you can tailor to aptitudes and ability. Much of the confusion and disagreement in the homeschooling community comes from this. Tailoring to interests in a major way at a young age seems wrong to many people. Tailoring to aptitudes and ability is much less controvertial. Unfortunately, they sound the same when we talk about them over the internet. I think the important point is to challenge the child. Here in the USA, although it may be inconvenient and expensive, it is possible to fill in gaps that have been created by tailoring a child's education to a child's interests. If the child has been taught to think, to learn, and to work hard (TWTM GRIN), then the child can fill in the gaps or change paths later. (Community college is one way to do this.) The child that has never been challenged, has never learned to learn, has never learned to work hard is in a much tougher spot. That child won't have the self-discipline and stamina to do the extra work needed to switch paths.

 

If by "low expectations", jld means "not challenging in any area of the child's life", then I agree that that is a bad idea, but I think it is very difficult to tell over the internet whether a child is being under-challenged.

 

If by "low expectations", jld means "that textbook shouldn't be used for 10th grade science" or "everyone should have math through calculus in high school" then I think not only can we not know over the internet, but the whole discussion begins to sound a lot like the famous depth versus breadth thread.

 

-Nan

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If the child has been taught to think, to learn, and to work hard (TWTM GRIN), then the child can fill in the gaps or change paths later. (Community college is one way to do this.) The child that has never been challenged, has never learned to learn, has never learned to work hard is in a much tougher spot. They won't have the self-discipline and stamina to do the extra work needed to switch paths.

-Nan

 

Thank you for this. You won't mind if I copy this down and share it with my Careers class next semester? We are using "Do Hard Things" by the Harris bros. as part of the class. I agree with you perfectly on this. ;)

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No, I don't mind. : ) The credit should go to SWB and JW, though.

 

PS - I thought your point about the non-test-taking homeschoolers was good.

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But if I'm going to be a promoter of homeschooling, I have to take an honest look at the criticisms of it, and one criticism I'm hearing regularly is whether or not the parents are asking enough of the kids. It's pretty hard to ask "enough", whatever that could mean, if the parents don't know what expectations might be out there, in academia, or the workplace. Yes, the kids could find out the hard way, but could there be an easier way?

 

And to the gal who said I wouldn't think what her child is doing is enough . . . I'm not thinking about anyone's child in particular. If anything, the people who responded to this thread may not be the people I was thinking of almost at all.

 

It's really hard to communicate effectively on sensitive topics. I know everyone loves her child. I know we all do better in some areas than others. Probably the people who could most benefit from asking themselves honestly about their expectations for their children are the people who aren't reading this at all. Isn't that how it usually goes?

 

I guess what I'm learning with my children, and in life in general, is that life is hard, and that careful, consistent work needs to be done every day, and that wise choices need to be made every day. I have been looking, looking, looking for a way around this but I just don't seem to find it. I'm sharing this with my kids as we, yes, sometimes slog through something that may seem onerous in the short-term, but that I think will pay long-term dividends.

 

One last specific example: I read recently that half the people in graduate science or technical programs in America are foreigners. Isn't this the segment that generates wealth for the country, that provides the money for culture and the arts? Isn't it just a good insurance policy for our country to have lots of natives able to study science and technical subjects at a graduate level? Isn't that easier to accomplish if kids get a good start in middle or high school?

 

I'd also like to say that when I mentioned English as a core subject, I really meant reading in general. We learn so, so much when we just read, read, read.

 

You know, I thought this topic might be a firestarter, but I'm not sure it's a bad idea to start a fire once in a while, if it makes us pause and reflect on our priorities. It's okay to examine our conscience. A prof here recently mentioned that most of her students have the ability to do her subject area, but may lack the discipline and time management to do so. I think it's helpful to learn from comments like that. If we are getting upset about something, it might be a chance to ask ourselves why.

 

Hi, jld! As I read this post, I find myself thinking that parents with low expectations will have low expectations whether their kids are in school or at home. Some kids will pick up on their parents way of thinking and some will just naturally have a different bent. There are kids in school who will do whatever it takes to barely get by and there are parents who just don't care. School is just another box to check off or a babysitter. Hard work is a good thing. And I do believe it is a good thing to encourage children to see things through. This low expectations attitude is IMO more of a lifestyle attitude than it is an attitude specifically about education.

 

You mention science and technical grad programs being mostly filled with foreigners. Doesn't that just show that our schools are not doing such a good job? But then again, didn't we have a thread not so long ago about how terrible it could be on kids to get an education in India? I still think our schools are not doing a good job for the most part but that's because I don't really believe in locking young kids up in an institutionalized setting to be taught by strangers who often aren't invested in them the way a parent would be. I don't believe in a one size fits all model. I also see a huge difference in what kids in public schools get vs. what kids in top tier private prep schools get. What's fine for one group sure as heck wouldn't be fine for the other. And I also know that school is the only safe haven some kids have, so it's not like I'm saying do away with schools, but still, I don't think that it's optimal. Far from it. Low expectations abound in many school environments. And I think it can be so detrimental to kids who need extra help or learn differently. I have a friend whose teens are on an IEP who still can barely read and they are 16. They also get straight A's. Everything is read to them. I am convinced if they got appropriate tutoring, they could read much better than they do. I think my friend realizes they don't get enough tutoring, either. They are just accommodated and not worked with as they should be IMO. They are sports stars, too, btw, and that seems to be the big focus. You mentioned how important reading is above, and I agree. But I see so many schooled kids who never ever read anything. They skim texts, cheat on tests, read Cliff Notes instead of the actual book, and do whatever they can do to scrape by. It's not an unusual attitude. Yes, there are kids who study like crazy and spend every minute on their school work, but there are so many who are the opposite of that. I guess I find both situations sad. I've had one child go through both private and then public school. She graduated with over 900 others from a huge public school, so I became very familiar with what's going on out there.

 

So, yes, maybe there are homeschoolers who do their children a disservice not expecting more, but hey, it's nothing the children can't rectify with a bit of interest IMO.

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I know many parents who take a sort of hands-off, I just want my kids to be happy approach, and don't set the bar at all with regards to education, time management, practical skills, etc...I saw this pilot episode of the Cosby Show last night where Theo has a brief monologue about how his parents should just love him "for who he is" instead of expecting so much from him in school. He just wants to be a "regular person" and figures that his parents should love him (which of course they do) because he's their son, not because of what he accomplishes. Theo's little speech gets a huge round of applause from the audience, but Bill Cosby's response is priceless...and exactly what I would've said.

 

The whole 10 minute clip is hysterical, but if you just want the monologue and response, go to 6:45.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSvmTE6k93E

 

I tell my kids all the time that my goal for them is not to make the most money, get into prestigious schools, etc...but that every time they get by with "good enough", they're closing doors of opportunity. I don't want their future choice to be severely limited because of the poor choices they make now. I have 3 nephews who didn't go to college because they wanted to get on with the rest of their lives. Two are now married and wanting to go back to school. One of those two has a baby and going back to school now is going to be so much harder than it would have been when he was young and single. His wife wants to stay at home, but can't because she needs to work so he can go to school. The third nephew is handicapped and is living in the dorm. He's in his mid-twenties and feels like a dork because he's living in the dorm with 18 year olds. He regrets not going to college when his friends went. He'd be out and working by now. You know what he did for all those yeas in between? Played video games while living at home with his mom. All 3 of these boys are brothers, trying to go back to school. I applaud them for that. They all regret choosing not to go sooner, and feel like they've closed the doors of opportunity in one way or another. Neither one of their parents completed college, so I think that's part of why they didn't expect/encourage their own boys to do so. Not a right or wrong decision, but once again...closing doors to opportunity and limiting their options.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the regular yearly standardized tests, test different things than the SATs and APs, don't you think?

 

As a low income, poorly educated homeschool mom, I had no trouble at all helping my children ace the yearly standardized tests where my children were being compared to ALL students in the town, on BASIC skills. In fact as a middle schoolers, my younger son had the highest scores in the entire town, and was the ONLY student who qualified to take the John Hopkins SATs that year and needed to take them in a neighboring town.

 

But by the end of high school, as my health and our finances slipped even more, it became impossible for me to help my son prepare for the large assortment of highly specialized, and higher order thinking skills tests where he was being compared to a small SUBSET of students who had access to a LOT of resources we didn't have.

 

At that point no one was giving him yearly standardised tests anymore because I was begging them to take him back into the school system (long story and no money to hire a lawyer) but I have no doubt he would have aced those, because he got very high marks on the GED and had the highest scores of the week on the entrace exams at the junior college, even though he was the youngest to take them, and we showed up there with holes in our clothes and me trying desperately not to faint. I was filled with shame about what a horrible job I was currently doing, but the dean of the college was just shaking his head and mumbling a lot, and trying to reassure me that things were going to be fine.

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What about people who are raising their children to be "intellectuals," but choose, for reasons that have nothing to do with economics, not to require their kids to read literature in a foreign language or take calculus? I could say "My pet peeve is that schools only require biology, physics, and chemistry — God forbid students actually be required to study a full year each of geology, astronomy, paleontology, and environmental science, or God forbid they be required to study cultural anthropology, the history of science, epistemology, phenomenology, and existentialism." *I* think those subjects are important, and my kids will study them, but I'm not remotely annoyed by the fact that other parents choose other subjects, regardless of their reasons.

But we've danced this dance already, haven't we? ;)

 

You know, Jackie, at times I think that if we went into our homes - yours, mine, Karen's, several other people's from that discussion - we'd probably find that we're more alike than different in how we react to our children, their passions, how we tailor what's considered a "typical educational experience" of our time and place to our individual children, etc. The fact that I insist so much on the structure doesn't mean that I'm enslaved by it, and the fact that some of you insist so much on your children's passions doesn't mean that you don't take into account the importance of having a base to approach the world from a broader standpoint than those immediate passions. Those are the basic stuff, I'm not even discussing that.

 

What you're doing here, however, is exactly the kind of relativizing that I don't like. You're taking random examples of what doesn't consistute and hasn't consistuted the standard experience of a young intellectual, but rather the points of additional focus. All of those are areas which are mentioned or even somewhat tackled in standard subjects (in other sciences or philosophy), but which have, if we're look at the past few generations, not been a part of the standard package. Of course that we can relativize and start asking now, but what is a "standard package" at all, as well as get into that discussion of how culturally-typical the standard packages are and to what extent they're even transferrable across cultures. But my point is, I'm not going there. I'm just taking a rough framework of a system which has educated the creme de la creme of the past few generations which are geographically and culturally close or correspondent to my life experience, for whatever reasons the framework is that way, and then comes the individual tailoring, but while maintaining the basic framework. This is why Latin, at least Latin on a certain level, is not optional, but a separate study of Biochemistry outside the basic scientific context from the framework is optional. That's why a basic historical context is provided as a part of science lessons, but if you wish to delve into Kuhn, that's up to your free time. For you, the framework may indeed be different - but as a person brought up in the Western culture and way of education, I doubt it's radically different.

 

The fact that some things are put outside the framework doesn't mean that children don't do them if they're interested in them. If anything, it increases their value - we value all learning, but there is "formal education" which must be in accordance with the framework, and then there is a broad field of informal education, which is heavily encouraged in our home. I grew up that same way, expect for the fact that the "formal" part was delegated to school in my case - but it's been far from the only educational experience I had. And yes, possibly the most valuable things I've learned were the ones I discovered on my own, rather than the ones dictated by the system - but the system certainly had its value of a contextualizator of learning, of a door-opening stepping stone in letting you know something exists, of something which ensured you wouldn't close yourself in your own little bubble and pursue only those ways of thinking and relating to the world that you were good at and you liked.

 

There is a big difference between focusing on your child's strengths (don't we all do that, to some extent?) and between writing off entire ways of thinking and relating to the world that are part of that standard experience, but that your child might not be the most successful in. It's not so much about calculus or about literature in a foreign language per se (even if there is an inherent value in learning both of these things) - it's also about the context of the overall experience, and about fostering certain ways of thinking... seeing a world through the lenses of a different language and relating with the symbolic heritage through it; fostering a very clear, organized way of thinking provided by mathematics even if it's not your forte - maybe especially if it's not your forte - or attempting to relate to art even if you're a die-hard logical thinker who needs to at least attempt to communicate with something that doesn't communicate the way he's used to. All of those experiences enrich you and, possibly, an exceptionally big value is precisely in those you normally wouldn't do. Tailoring a high school education only according to one's strengths and interests is a dangerous thing. You're closing the world to your child by doing so. A typical European lycee educates all children as if they were going to continue the study of most disciplines they study - it may be a more difficult approach, but certainly a one which opens the world for the child, rather than closes it. It doesn't matter if somebody doesn't continue to study Latin - but we educated you as if you were going to, we opened it up and demystified it for you, we exposed you to a way of thinking, we related you to certain things... And, as they always say, the most valuable things are those that remain after you've forgot most of the content.

 

My husband is a scientist and he grew up in a religious family. Up until this present day, he claims that his mind was trained the most, other than mathematics, by the study of the Jewish rabbinical corpus dealing with law - which is a completely unrelated field... but the particular way of studying it, delving into the minutiae of law and acquiring a certain way of thinking, is what stays with you long after you've forgot the concrete things you studied. Same thing with me and mathematics, or my eldest and mathematics, or my middle and Greek. It's a part of the standard experience and exposure to different ways of thinking and functioning.

 

It's not that anyone's life is going to be ruined because they didn't take calculus or tackled Moliere in French. It's that not doing those things (or equivalents in the standard experience) is a sort of... How to say it without using such a hard wording? It's a sort of giving up on yourself so early. Cementing your future at 15-16. Writing off entire aspects of the world and ways of thinking. Becoming an utilitarian, learning what you "need". Becoming a hedonist, equaling your intellectual development with what you "like". And so forth.

 

It's not university we're talking about - it's not the time for a concentrated study of a chosen discipline in order to master it. It's high school. It's building your intellectual profile, and still a "broad" phase of doing so. Writing off math for the last two years of high school IS a drastic choice, just like it's drastic doing it with a foreign language. It's not an irreparable thing, life-wise, but it's a sad thing to do. It's so sad when a young person is allowed to enclose themselves into this utilitarian-hedonist bubble, and when a school system encourages it. That's why I don't like artsy students writing off math and mathy students writing off languages - not on a high school level, not with regards to standard experience.

 

I need a coffee, not sure if this above makes much sense. :)

All of those are equally valid paths, to equally valid destinations.

 

While I agree about the validity of many different destinations, I'm not so sure that all paths leading to those destinations are valid.

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Stephanie,

 

My 8th grader spends 20 hours on music M-F. (Violin, Piano, and Pipe Organ). This doesn't include choir on Tuesday evenings or weekend work (practice on Saturday + 3 hours orchestra). Can you tell that he's really into music? :D

 

His M-F work day starts at 8:00 and ends at 6:30 with a 3/4 hr break for lunch. So if you do the math, he's logging 20 hours for music, and about 28 hours for academics. That's just a hair over 5 1/2 hours a day for the academics, and we are steppin' to get it all in. I've ran 8th grade with his two older siblings; I know what he needs in his knapsack as he heads into high school so we are steppin'. Our academic face time is packed, but he's a quick study so it's do-able.

 

I'm just offering this up to let you know that I exist. You're not alone. And believe it or not with the last kid, this schedule is not really that stressful either. I used to worry with my oldest that maybe we were doing too much. Sometimes we did the wrong things, yes! (Psst. He was my oldest. It happens.) But I haven't regretted running a rigorous program. And I have no desire to debate it anymore. What we do works GREAT for our family. I'm not worried about what other people are doing. :001_smile: And I don't need other people to tell me that we're OK either.

 

We just keep plugging along. I'm so glad to be a part of this community. I have MUCH respect for the gals here - yes, even MUCH respect for those who have chosen a different path than I have.

 

PEACE to you and yours!

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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I wish I had started homeschooling earlier in my dd's career. She is stunned by what she considers my "too high expectations". I am in a daily panic that they are too low. We both struggle towards a middle ground.

When I started out doing the planning for this jr. year, I asked her what she wanted to do and then I spent many hours researching AP and IB curriculums, mining them for ideas. I am trying to give her the best there is, or at least the possibility of experiencing the best in knowledge. I try daily to keep raising the bar somehow. I feel I will be frustrated for another year and a half. When dd goes to college, then we'll know what's what.

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Tailoring a high school education only according to one's strengths and interests is a dangerous thing. You're closing the world to your child by doing so.

 

 

 

I remember at the end of the year faculty meeting for the charter school where I was teaching, they were discussing how to get the dc to follow their interests. I was sitting there thinking that what they should really focus on was getting the students to understand that everything is interesting.

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Nan, by low expectations I mean parents posting to ask what is the least difficult, quickest way to get through something to put a credit on a kid's transcript. I understand that kids would want to do things this way; I certainly did as a kid. I don't understand it from a parent. Once again, maybe I am just plain limited in my vision.

 

To reiterate, I am not promoting testing, regulations, or licensing of homeschooling parents to see who is "good enough". I am just asking homeschooling parents, or parents in general, to look into their hearts and see if their expectations are serving their children. Yet this is probably meaningless if the parents don't know what may be expected of kids later on.

 

I just read today that Chinese kids have taken the lead in science, math, and reading tests. I am not advocating fear of the Chinese, anymore than I advocate fear of the Indians, but I don't know any Indian mother who doesn't take a pretty serious interest in her kids' education. They must be out there, but most I know encourage the kids to work hard. I don't think we should act out of fear, but I do think we should act. Maybe I'm singing to the choir here. Sorry if that is the case. It's just something that's been on my mind.

 

Thanks, EM, for your comments. Most foreigners I know, even if they end up in the arts or humanities, still seem to have done a math and science core. Is this why so few people outside America doubt global warming is happening?

 

I certainly limited myself by giving up on math and science in 11th grade. I needed different teachers or to have had Apologia and Saxon available to me so I could have taught myself. I'm 40 and it's not too late, but I really wish I could/would have made different choices at 16. Just trying to help the next generation here.

 

And to whoever said kids don't read outside of school, yes, I agree that is a big problem. I wonder if their parents read.

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I'll come drink the coffee with you, even if it makes me crawl home doubled over because I usually drink tea LOL.

 

Is this what you mean? There are two ways to educate. One is to teach all children to a high level in all subjects in the framework and leave them to go higher by themselves in their areas of interest. The other is to teach each child to a very basic level in all subjects and teach them (or leave them to teach themselves) to an even higher level in their area of interest. You are calling the second relativism and you think it does the child a disservice. Have I got that right?

 

If that is what you mean, is there not a third option, at least here in the USA? It doesn't work for all children. In fact, it probably shouldn't be done with most. This option says that for some children (like Corraleno's husband), it is better to pick one or two subjects in which you teach intensive thinking (like your husband's rabbinical corpus law), to teach the rest to a basic-but-requires-thinking (like athletic cross-training) and to leave the student with extra time to pursue his own interests.

 

There are people here on this board who have students who are lopsided and incapable of going far in some subjects. What happens to them in a good lycee? Are they allowed to stay? Could they go in the first place? (Personally, I think it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make them struggle along for a good bit of the way in them, but I think it is rather a waste to make them keep struggling beyond a certain point.) And then there are those who have students who point blank refuse to study anything outside their area of interest. These are the students who begin to consistently flunk things in public school and eventually are denied access to the more interesting, high level classes. In Europe, would they even get to a good lycee? I suspect not. Here, at least, if they have a parent who is willing, they can homeschool and at least get some sort of education, even if it isn't the ideal one.

 

I think you are right and that your house and Jackie's probably look very much alike, but with an extra emphasis on classics at your house and an extra emphasis on science in Jackie's, because those are areas that you yourselves are enthusiastic and knowledgable about.

 

-Nan

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Ok, jld, so I think parents here often ask for those either because they have a student who needs time to do something else (like dance or take 3 AP classes) - in other words is being challenged in other ways, or because they have a student for whom the easiest way is still going to be a challenge.

-Nan

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I agree 100% with you about low expectations. My husband and I have a difference of opinion about this. He still sees life as it was in the 1980s, when he graduated from high school and college. He was valedictorian of his Episcopal school and graduated with an electrical engineering degree from a highly respected college (on a full scholarship) -- but he didn't enjoy school, never studied, and after graduation happily forgot everything he learned that wasn't work-related.

 

In his mind (1) excellent colleges are still relatively easy to get into; (2) having a degree is what counts, and it doesn't matter what the major is; (3) a student just needs to do what he/she has to do to meet the requirements. He isn't seeing things in terms of serious learning. I need to show him material about how competitive things are today. We are always battling over this.

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He still sees life as it was in the 1980s,

 

I think a lot of people do. The economy is changing fast, and may never be the same. People are taking lots of college debt that may never be paid off, for majors that may bring a minimum wage. We may be in the last decade of the empire, but instead of changing our thinking, we continue believing that things will go on the way we've always known them to be.

 

Gosh, I sure hope I'm wrong about all this.

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. It just surprised me that so many folks here are apparently schooling for a half day during the logic stage. :confused:

 

I think equating a large number of school hours and a rigorous education is a fallacy. One can waste a lot of time and come out with mediocre results after a long school day ( just look at public schools), or one can work effectively and accomplish a lot in a few hours. So, comparing time spent is not really a good measure for academic rigor.

Case in point: when my DD attended a (college preparatory) secondary school in Germany last year, she had a total of 22 hours instructional time per week at school in 6th grade. That included rigorous (compared to US schools) math and science and TWO foreign languages. If I take into account that in any school setting with large classes some of this time will be wasted on management, I should be able to accomplish the same results in a homeschool setting with far fewer hours.

 

My 8th grader for instance is required to do 5 hours of school per day only. In that time, however, she is doing challenging work far above grade level. So I definitely consider her education rigorous - even though she does not spend a full day on school work. Does that make sense?

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And to whoever said kids don't read outside of school, yes, I agree that is a big problem. I wonder if their parents read.

 

Our boys do not read outside of school unless it's for information. And I read to them in the womb, read to them as toddlers and still read to them at night. Their father or I are constantly walking around with a book. We encourage them to read outside of school. For several years we tried to force the issue. It obviously didn't work.

 

Not sure what else one is supposed to do when you have kids that resistant to reading. It crushed me when my boys didn't take to books the way I always have and my husband has. Our home is stuffed to the gills with books.

 

And if hours spent doing school had an correlation to rigor then my kids would be quite advanced. Due to various processing issues school is never going to get done in a hurry around here.

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I have lived in 3 states now where no testing of any sort was required of homeschoolers K-12 or to graduate. We have been "proud" of our homeschool freedoms that allow this. We are free to low achievement if we want that. I have known too many non-testing, non-achieving, minimum-wage earning "graduates" of home school.

 

Your claim that "every single standardized test shows that homeschoolers, as a group, outperform public schoolers" assumes that homeschoolers as a whole take these tests, and I would not say that is generally true. I realize in Wisconsin and Maine we may have lived in backwards areas, as these are backward states and Maine is barely on the map and all, but I have also lived in majorly populated central California.

 

In my experience of 15+ years homeschooling, I have seen maybe 1 out of 10 students even attempt a college entrance exam. So to compare homeschoolers taking tests with public schoolers taking tests, is irrelevant to the low expectations I have seen. Testers vs. testers are easily compared. I know too many non-testers.

 

 

 

But... do you also see those in ps who drop out at the first chance they get? Those who fail to learn to read or do even basic math, not necessarily due to ability, but due to lack of enthusiasm or desire? These are often working from elementary books in high school and still don't care nor get good grades. They certainly don't take college entrance exams. At the high school where I work (in PA) most do not go to college nor take college entrance exams. Our state says a whopping 56% need to be proficient (not advanced - to score proficient one need not know all that much) in math and 63% in reading. We do not meet the state standards and are considered an average school in our state (slightly below average with the last scores actually).

 

Until I actually taught in a ps I never realized how many kids are failing to learn or even don't care to learn. It's not pretty. Many on here might see it in their homeschooling community and I don't deny it's there, but as an overall group, where "basic" testing is done, homeschoolers outperform public schooled students. Where college testing is done they do too although I agree that this is a more selective group (from both groups).

 

As I said before, there are high and low expectations in both groups. There have been NO National Merit Scholars in my high school the past 7 years and only one I know of in my 11 year history here. One student made commended status last year. I know far fewer home schoolers, but percentage-wise far more who have those accomplishments (from on here and IRL).

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